McDonald’s workers speak out over sexual abuse claims 

July 21, 2023
McDonalds legal action

Anyone impacted by the issues which have again been highlighted this week in relation to McDonald’s should know that they are not alone, they have rights, and they have options.”

Megan Lafferty, Legal Director, Pogust Goodhead

Allegations have been made this week by staff at outlets of the fast-food chain McDonald’s surrounding sexual abuse, harassment, racism and bullying.

The BBC reported that workers, some as young as 17, are being groped and harassed almost routinely. 

In February this year, Mcdonald’s entered into a formal agreement with the Equality and Human Rights Commission – the body responsible for promoting and upholding equality and human rights ideals and laws across England, Scotland and Wales – committing to protect staff from sexual harassment.   

However, the BBC began investigating after they signed this agreement. The investigation notes that, at the time, “McDonald’s insisted: ‘We already have a strong track record in this area.’”   

The BBC’s inquiry has revealed a starkly different picture. They report that over a five-month period, they heard more than 100 allegations from employees related to sexual assault, sexual harassment, racism, and homophobia.   

The BBC’s findings are harrowing, and we fear this is only the tip of the iceberg. McDonald’s is already facing legal action in the US brought by employees over sexual harassment allegations.   

Our Legal Director, Megan Lafferty, and former lead solicitor at an organisation supporting women affected by gender-based violence, highlights: 

“Movements such as Me Too and the Time’s Up Campaign have shone a light on sexual harassment, but it is still a prevalent issue in the UK, as the recent media coverage relating to McDonald’s reminds us.   

“It can be particularly difficult to report experiences when they happen in your place of work, often by more senior staff members.  Even when reports are made, all too often, they are not properly and adequately investigated and effectively remedied.  

“Anyone impacted by the issues which have again been highlighted this week in relation to McDonald’s should know that they are not alone, they have rights, and they have options.” 

The BBC included guidance for anyone affected by the issues raised: 

“What to do if you have been sexually harassed at work 

  • Report it: Charity Victim Support says you can report it to your manager, HR representative or trade union, who will take action. 
  • Keep a record: Including dates, times and details of what happened, as well as any relevant emails. These could be helpful if you decide to report it. 
  • Get help: Victim Support operates a free and confidential 24/7 helpline and live chat service. Call 0808 16 89 111 or use the live chat at: 
  • Call the police: If sexual harassment escalates into violence, threats or sexual assault, you should report this to the police by calling 101. If you are in danger, call 999.” 

We would also encourage anyone who wants to discuss their potential legal options to get in touch with our Scottish Team or our English Team via email.

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